Saturday, 23 March 2013


When we went to view our first allotment, we were met with the sight of a 10 rod, very blank canvas of a space that had just had a flamethrower put over it to rid it of a mass of ivy. There was an old rubbish tip at one end. And that was it. Nothing beyond weeds had grown of it for 10 years. It was ground, but it was charmless ground. Exposed ground. Still, we took took it on, we cut our allotmenteering teeth and we cursed its ability to grow weeds at an abnormally alarming rate. But for five and a half years we grew some good veg and fruit on it. It was a practical space. A factory allotment.

Today, as the sleet and rain battered our faces, we discovered Allotment 7b. Half the size of our old allotment at five rods, its soil is rich and loamy as the land was once an old mill pond that was used for washing fullers earth. It sits beside a river where there are kingfishers during the summer and is under cover of a tree where a woodpecker makes its nest every year. There is a forsythia arch leading to a gate - about two thirds of the space is covered in a netting cage to protect against the pigeons that live in the woods on the other side of the river. There is a potting shed with a window. A compost bin and a water butt. There is a makeshift three-sided greenhouse. Growing beds are delineated; there are raspberry canes and black currants in situ, and the remnants of some leeks and potatoes. I found a little lavender bush.

Underneath the woodpecker tree a bench has been built, and a little picnic table, too. Yes, it needs a good tidy-up. And the shed and the greenhouse need a bit of DIY TLC. The raspberry canes need pruning. The beds need a good weeding. The netting cage needs an uplift so we can stand upright in it without garrotting ourselves on the saggy wires.

But I think it was love at first sight. The whole allotment site is less than a third of the size of our old site with only 27 plots. It is a site with obvious character and charm. There is a communal bonfire which is managed by the site reps, and a communal horse poo compost pile where you just help yourself. There is no water supply on the site, but that is because you take your dipping bucket down to the river, go down the steps and get your water from there. And we have a set of steps right on the edge of our plot. There is an annual barbecue where everyone gets together for a sausage. It seems like a jolly friendly place.

Rent is £13.50 a year. We have been presented with a key. We can't wait to get started.


rusty duck said...

Ohhhhh! I'm so excited...!!!!!
Can't wait to see what you do with it.
Leeks already..
And love the picnic table under the woodpecker tree...

Denise said...

This allotment has so much more character than our last one (although we did try to instil a personality on it during our 5 year tenancy).

The weather is, infuriatingly, too wet to do any serious gardening at the moment - but we are in full throttle planning mode! Can't wait to see the woodpecker take up residence, too.

becslb said...

Fantastic news! I wondered whether you would grow more this year and now I know! I miss my lotties & I even miss the hard work but 5 rods actually sounds perfect - looking forward to hearing more!